Author Archives: Californian Mum in London

About Californian Mum in London

Hey! I'm a California gal who moved to London in 2002 to be with my British bloke. Come read about my adventures living in London, being a Stay-At-Home-Mum, coping with a tea and cake addiction and trying to assimilate into British life. Don't know where I belong, but can't imagine living anywhere else.

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It's a true sign of summer when my family and I head to Mayfield Lavender Farm. It provides a lovely backdrop for informal family photos. And of course the smell is unreal. But we almost did not go this year. But two weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, the power on our road went out. So we decided that a trip to the lavender farm and brunch at a cafe would ease the pain of not having any electricity.

And ease the pain it did. Mayfield Lavender is a 25 minute drive away, so we were able to enjoy some air-conditioning. At the lavender farm, we only spent 10 minutes taking photos, and then went to brunch at Fego in Banstead. We came home at 1pm hoping for electricity, but annoyingly it did not return til after 6.30pm. Still, at least we had a lovely morning, and some sweet photos to remember the day.

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Last week I attended the NFL Flag Football Summer Bowl, presented by Subway®, in Chiswick. It was a great day watching kids play football and meeting some super cool NFL players. Growing up in the USA, I spent Friday nights attending high school football games and cheering for my team. Us Americans love our football, and now it's in the UK. Hooray!

American football is the fastest growing sport in the UK. And not only are Brits watching the games, but they've started playing as well. Did you know that over 10,000 children in the UK have taken part in the NFL Flag programme presented by Subway®? And it's not just boys. Flag is a mixed-gender sport, and it's wonderful having a sport where boys and girls can play together.

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Last month I did something pretty unusual. I said goodbye to Husband and the kids, and I went off to Italy for three days. I hadn't traveled on my own for almost 20 years. I was a bit anxious beforehand, but it felt quite liberating to do something on my own. It was like 'Eat, Pray, Love' with just the eating. And it turns out that Catania is a great city if you love food.

If you've never heard of Catania, it is located in Sicily by the sea. This means that you will find the most amazing fish and seafood. And with the growing popularity of wine being grown near Mt Etna, your meal will be complemented by some terrific wines. And because it is Italy, it is beautiful and the people are absolutely lovely.

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Do you ever get a new pair of shoes that fill you with utter happiness? Well, this happened last week when my new leopard sandals arrived. I had been eyeing them up on the Hotter website for over a month. Umming and ahhing. Do I really need new sandals? It turns out that I really did. After all, my wardrobe was severely lacking in leopard ones (meaning I had none).

I almost never wear heels, so I try and find flat shoes that look stylish and not frumpy. And for summer, these leopard sandals are ideal. They ooze elegance but never make you feel like a nana (sorry nana). But it's true, I love being comfortable and refuse to suffer for style. Yes, I would love to wear some three-inch heels, but I know it would kill my back and give me a leg ache.

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It can be so tough going on dates when you have young children. Besides getting a babysitter, you have to deal with the fatigue that comes with the evening. So sometimes Husband takes the day off and we have a day date. And this is what we did this week. After a lazy morning, we went to see the Han Solo film and then went to Cau to try out their new summertime menu.

We're very lucky to have a huge array of wonderful restaurants in Kingston, and Cau is especially nice as it's right on the river. As it was a sunny day, we sat outside, and of course we drank cocktails. One of my favourite cocktails ever is the Passionfruit Mojito, which they happen to serve at Cau. It is so delicious and refreshing that I can never just have one. Thankfully we ate lots of yummy food, so I wasn't stumbling home.

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Last week was spent visiting The Netherlands and Belgium for the half-term break. And while I will put together a proper post about it another time, I wanted to write about my boy. For years we only had UK holidays. He was such a handful from the ages of 18 months to about 4 1/4. He would throw a tantrum about everything. He didn't want to leave the house. He didn't want to come home. He didn't like the colour of his cup of water.

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My father-in-law turned 70 this year and he wanted to commemorate this special birthday with a family trip. So a few weeks ago we drove to Normandy to spend four days with Husband's extended family. I wouldn't think to spend a long weekend in France, as it seems to far away, but it was actually an easy trip.

The drive from south west London to Folkestone was about 1 1/2 hours, and then we drove onto the Eurotunnel train which only took 30 minutes to get to Calais. It was cool driving right onto the train. People mostly just sat in their cars, but there were toilets if needed. We drove swiftly off the train and then two hours later and we reached Luneray.

This journey was about the same as when we went to North Cornwall last month, but this time we were in France which naturally feels more exciting. Luneray is in Haute-Normandy. Not only does this mean that it's closer to the UK, but it means you're not far from the sea.

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Dear Meghan,

Hey girl, how's it going? Congratulations on your soon-to-be wedding. I've seen one or two (millions of) articles on the matter. And I can imagine it's quite overwhelming. Getting married is quite a big deal, but then it's even more intimidating when you add moving to a new country to the mix. As a fellow Californian gal who fell in love with a British guy, I thought I would offer some tips to help with your transition into British life. Hope this helps!

1. Pretend you understand what they're saying - For the first six months living in the UK, I only caught half of the conversations. Some accents are tougher than others. Some people don't even open their mouths when they speak. Anyway, they get annoyed if you keep saying 'pardon?'. So sometimes you just have to nod and pretend you've understood everything they've said.

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My family and I have been to many dinosaur experiences. Many. And although Dubz isn't obsessed with dinosaurs anymore, he still adores them. And to be honest, the rest of the family quite like them. I mean, what's not to like?! Cool creatures that we'd normally be afraid of but are extinct so we can be fascinated without fear. And one of the newest attractions in London showcasing them is Dinosaurs in the Wild.

When we first arrived at the giant warehouse that housed Dinosaurs in the Wild, I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought it was going to be an exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs. But I was wrong. I don't want to give too much away (the element of surprise helps to make this such a cool experience).

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I have spent about a month searching for the perfect summer jumpsuit. I had tried on about 20, and I was about to give up when I popped into Sainsbury's last week. I went in to buy pyjamas, and ended up with this navy jumpsuit instead. Jumpsuits are such a versatile piece of clothing. One item can easily be made more casual, ready for drinks with the girls and then even be used as workwear.  But not all jumpsuits work with everyone.

I am a pear-shape (such an old-fashioned term, but  we all understand it). I normally wear a larger size for trousers than for tops. This makes jumpsuit-buying a bit tricky. Some jumpsuits are tight on my legs but fit my upper half. Then there are the insecurities I have towards my body. I don't like anything too tight. I don't show my arms. The jumpsuit is actually sleeveless, but I thought my denim kimono would look nice without screaming 'I'm wearing a cardigan because I hate my flabby arms'.

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